Pin It

Home » Family Therapy » Functional Family Therapy

Functional Family Therapy

Originally created to help middle-class families deal with their troubled youth, Functional Family Therapy (FFT) has expanded over the years to encompass other types of families including poor, multi-cultural, and multi-ethnic. FFT is an intervention program targeted towards providing parents and guardians with the tools needed to deal with children and teens who are acting out, abusing drugs, or engaged in disorderly or violent behavior. The primary goal of this program is to promote communication and support between family members while reducing the negativity inherent in these types of family situations. Functional Family Therapy also endeavors to help families develop positive solutions to the issues affecting them, change negative behavior, and provide parents with effective parenting strategies.

As is the norm for many family therapy programs, FFT is administered by family therapists who work with individual families in clinical settings. Some programs, particularly those that address multiple problems, are conducted in the home. The model for the program spans four phases which are:

  • Introductory Phase (First impressions)
  • Motivation Phase (Therapy)
  • Behavioral Changes Phase
  • Generalization Phase (Multisystem focus)

In each phase of the program, an assessment, a teaching of specific intervention techniques, and a discussion of the therapist’s goals will be conducted. The program requires participants to use their head to solve the problems at hand and focuses on helping them make systemic changes by helping the family develop communication, parenting, and conflict management skills.

Since 1971, the FFT model has been evaluated several times. The effectiveness and impact of the program has been demonstrated in studies designed to compare groups as well as other independent testing areas. It has been shown that FFT, when compared to alternative therapies or no therapy at all, significantly reduces the rate of recidivism to between 50 to 75 percent for serious offenders and 35 percent in severe cases. Treatment costs were similarly reduced in the same dramatic fashion.

In-session treatments were also evaluated with a focus on the characteristics of the therapist and how the families interacted with each other. The biggest changes were seen in how family members communicated with each other, showing a reduction in communication patterns that focused on negativity and blaming. All in all, the data demonstrates that the therapist must be focused on and sensitive to the family dynamics and capable of structuring therapy in a clear way, both of which can help reduce the number of program drop outs and recidivism.